|1||Bob Harkins Branch||KOR||Paperback||Junior Action Fiction|
|2||Bob Harkins Branch||KOR||Paperback||Junior Action Fiction|
|1||Nechako Branch||KOR||Paperback||Junior Action Fiction|
The second book in the acclaimed, action-packed series from New York Times bestselling author Gordon Korman
The clones of Project Osiris are free--but they're being hunted. . . . After their narrow escape from their "perfect" hometown, Eli, Tori, Amber and Malik are finally in the real world and determined to expose the leaders of Serenity. They decide to track down Tamara Dunleavy, the mysterious billionaire and founder of Project Osiris. Evading capture by breaking laws and sneaking into houses, hotels, buses and cars--are they becoming the criminals they were destined to be?
What they discover will change everything, leading them straight into the Plastic Works and the heart of the experiment, in order to uncover the deadly criminals they're cloned from--and any evidence that will convince the outside world to believe the truth. But the outside world isn't exactly what they expected--strangers aren't just unfriendly, they're dangerous. And the wrong move could send them right back into the arms of Dr. Hammerstrom--and trapped in Serenity for good.
On a breakneck journey from Jackson Hole to a maximum security prison--Eli, Tori, Amber and Malik will stop at nothing to take Project Osiris down.
Gordon Korman was born in Montreal, Canada on October 23, 1963. When his 7th-grade English teacher told the class they could have 45 minutes a day for four months to work on a story of their choice, Korman began This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall. He was also the class monitor for the Scholastic TAB Book Club, so he sent his novel to the address on the TAB flyer, and a few days after his 14th birthday, he had a book contract with Scholastic.
By the time he graduated from high school, he had published five other novels and several articles for Canadian newspapers. He received a BFA degree from New York University with a major in Dramatic Writing and a minor in Film and TV. He has written over 75 books for children and young adults including the Swindle series, The Juvie Three, and two books of poetry written by the fictional character Jeremy Bloom.
(Bowker Author Biography)
Publisher's Weekly Review
Several teens learn that their idyllic small-town existence is a sham in this first entry in Korman's Masterminds series. Serenity, N.Mex., has the best standard of living in the country, with zero unemployment and total peace and prosperity. Thirteen-year-old Eli and his friends have never known anywhere else. Honesty, harmony, and contentment aren't just valued in Serenity, they're a way of life. Then Eli and the others start to notice odd things: when they try to leave town, they get sick; their Internet is remarkably sanitized compared to outside sites they accidentally come across; and some kids are considered special, while others are less so. After they discover the truth about why Serenity is so peaceful, they must face the fact that their lives have been ruled by a gigantic lie. Rotating among several young narrators, Korman builds tension as the mystery unfolds, leading to several surprise twists that upend the status quo. While an awful lot of dumb luck is involved in the kids' discoveries, this tense, fast-paced story will have readers racing toward the cliffhanger ending. Ages 8-12. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
New York Review of Books Review
WHAT HAPPENS DURING summer vacation has a lot to teach us about children and reading. Librarians and teachers are very aware of the "summer slide." This friendly-sounding phrase describes the loss of reading skills during the long break. After two months of not reading, a student experiences a gap in learning that, by the time she reaches middle school, might add up to a two-year lag in skills. We also know that children who choose reading as a leisure activity will do well on those dreaded tests of comprehension, vocabulary and reading speed. But how do you get them to want to read? One thing is hardly shocking: Children who choose their own reading material read. This means that required summer reading lists don't work to keep kids reading. What does work is taking them to the public library and signing up for summer reading programs. What does work is surrounding kids with all kinds of books - comics, how-to-make-paper-airplanes books, fantasy series - and letting them choose what they like. Nonetheless, there are always books that adults are well advised to put within the reach of children - subtly - in the hope that they'll be drawn in. The books under review here are all examples of the genre called "speculative fiction," and they are all first books in a series. They are also books I can picture a young reader choosing. In the end, though, it will be up to her. Trust her choices. AN EXCELLENT NEW SERIES asks for a commitment. As readers, we enter into an agreement with the author. We take the time to get to know the characters, the setting and premise. We understand that we might have to wait to continue this journey, but we also insist that this book be whole and stand on its own. Gordon Korman has a strong track record with middle-grade and young adult series, including several turns writing books in the best-selling "39 Clues" adventure series. He is the king of voice and setup, and he never fails to make me laugh out loud. His latest, "Masterminds," a high-stakes tale told from varying points of view, is set in the tiny planned community of Serenity, N.M. - a place of "honesty, harmony and contentment" where, supposedly, kids can grow up safe, carefree and happy. There is no crime, no unemployment, no poverty and no homelessness. The narrators are a cohort of 13-yearolds. Eli Frieden is the son of the principal of their small public school, who also happens to be the town's mayor. His dad, like all the parents in Serenity, constantly reminds him to be grateful to be growing up in this perfect environment, but Eli isn't quite sure. For one thing, he doesn't feel right about the fact that he's never once stepped foot outside Serenity. Amber Laska, however, has no problem being grateful. With her impressive mathematical abilities and unquestioning grace, she happily conducts her scheduled life of achieving outstanding test results while keeping up with piano and ballet lessons. Then there's Malik, the biggest kid in town. He's an outspoken malcontent, making fun of the town sayings, traditions and rules. He bullies Hector, the smallest of the group, who senses things are not quite as they seem on the surface and understands that Malik might have the right idea with his plan to leave town as soon as he's old enough. Korman slowly reveals details that suggest the utopian community is something else altogether, and Eli and his friends find themselves caught up in a conspiracy. Suffice it to say that what's really going on in Serenity involves the cloning of incarcerated criminals and a carefully orchestrated government plot. The teenagers, for their part, must grapple with their growing realization that there is almost no one they can trust, including their seemingly benign parents. Another middle-grade series off to a great start is "The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly," from the debut novelist Ted Sanders. Despite the familiar motifs - an outsider with untapped special talent, a gang of friends united against forces of evil - what we have here is a winding fantasy adventure that will appeal to readers of J.K. Rowling and Rick Riordan. Horace F. Andrews, age 12, is traveling on a crowded city bus when he spies a tall and narrow building sign with his name on it, in faded old-fashioned lettering, preceded by a list of words. The only ones he catches are "Artifacts. Miseries. Mysteries." Impulsively, Horace leaps out of the bus. "What possible reason," he wonders, "could any business have for putting 'Miseries' on its sign?" As Horace looks for the building, a strange, malodorous man blocks his path and sneers a cryptic pronouncement: "Watch where you roam, Tinker....Curiosity is a walk fraught with peril." The creepy stranger is not far wrong, as the building Horace enters turns out to be the House of Answers, a warehouse of wonders that would give Diagon Alley competition for the most fantastical architectural structure. The House of Answers contains an archive of curious bins with odd labels like FLAT and SUBTLE. The bins hold objects like scissors with sharp outer edges, a two-foot-long corkscrew and an ice cream scoop as big as a head. The most fascinating is a small box, its meaning and purpose shrouded in mystery. Horace is drawn to it and cannot let it out of his sight. A physical longing that he cannot explain compels him to keep the box close by. The proprietor, Mr. Meister, lets him have the box, warning him not to allow it into the sight of the dangerous stranger. Soon after, Horace meets Chloe, also 12, who received her own transformative item, a dragonfly pendant, at the tender age of 5. These objects, we learn, are instruments called Tanu that bond to their "Keepers." The device chooses the Keeper, who must find the object's powers on his or her own through experimentation and discovery. There were moments when I felt bogged down in the details of the series's setup. But those who stick with it will find a satisfying and original quest tale. We cheer on Horace as he painstakingly refines his newly found talent to enable objects to travel in time. Meanwhile, Chloe is also strengthening her own unique gift for hiding in plain sight. Horace, Chloe and their new companions - Neptune, who can float, and Gabriel, who can temporarily blind - set out to rescue Chloe's father. He is being held hostage by the malevolent race of beings called the Riven, who hunger to claim all Tanu for their own. I was left longing for the next episode. "A School for Unusual Girls," by Kathleen Baldwin, is enticing from the first sentence: "What if Sir Isaac Newton's parents had packed him off to a school to reform his manners?" Our protofeminist teenage protagonist, Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam, known as Georgie, utters those lines. Possessing the robust intellect of a promising scientist along with a lack of interest in conforming to the societal norms of early 1800s England, she's banished to a boarding school with a reputation for "reforming" recalcitrant girls into compliant companions. This first installment of the Stranje House series has all the markers of a Regency romance - elaborate manners, rigid social hierarchies and historical accuracy about the fine points of clothing and culture. Baldwin has an ear for period dialogue as she draws us into this world of sharp, smart young ladies who are actually being trained and deployed for the British war effort by the mysterious headmistress, Miss Stranje. It's speculative historical fiction, with a trace of steampunk inventiveness: Would a refinement of invisible ink in 1814 have changed the course of history, helping the British evade spies in the war they were fighting on multiple fronts? Swoony moments also abound ("An instant later, his mouth found mine....It felt as if he poured years of hunger and longing, thousands of heartbreaking secrets into me, into this one urgent moment"); after all, this is a romance as well. Yet gender stereotypes are turned upside down as the women, who each have an unusual talent, plan a daring spy mission. Georgie literally flies to the rescue of her beloved Sebastian, taken captive in an enemy stronghold. "The Sin Eater's Daughter," another debut novel, combines the compelling world-building narrative style of Kristin Cashore's "Graceling" with the political intrigue of Megan Whalen Turner's "The Thief." In this well-imagined fantasy world, we meet Twylla, who is the "chosen one," identified when she was still a young child by royal leaders as the hand of the ancient gods. Narrating the novel in a rueful voice, she slowly reveals her situation: As the embodiment of the gods on earth, she is able to survive the intake of poison and then kill another with a poisonous touch. Promised to be wed to the prince, whom she hardly knows since he has been on diplomatic missions for years, she lives in the palace, feared by all who come in close proximity. She can touch no one. But according to the lore, the prince's royal blood will protect him from the poison contained in hers. Twylla's days are spent in prayer, though she is occasionally called upon to perform an execution by merely laying hands on the guilty party. She witnesses the casual cruelty of the queen but knows she has no power to prevent the terrible punishments the queen relishes. Melinda Salisbury wraps the horror of Twylla's situation in the complex spiritual traditions of the kingdom. Besides her poisonous role as the chosen one, she is also the daughter of the Sin Eater, whose duty is to be present after a death to consume a meal that contains the sins of the departed, thereby saving the person's soul from damnation. "I'd watched my mother Eat coddled eggs for thieves and boiled horse liver for scolds and nags," Twylla says, and she was raised to expect to take her mother's place, since it's a hereditary position. Coming of age in the palace, cloistered from people and deprived of an education, Twylla believes without question her spiritual purpose. It is only when she's seduced by the seemingly guileless charm of her newly appointed guard, Lief, that the veil of naïveté lifts. Once she sees the darker truth of the kingdom, she begins to imagine a different kind of future for herself. "I don't live in the stories of old," she says in an epilogue as she begins a new life, and we wonder what stories are ahead for her. All of these books offer a chance to experience the new and anticipatory pleasure of starting a series. As the best series have always done, they suggest future bingereading: getting through all of Narnia in a week, visiting Earthsea and staying for a long while, and reaching to the very end of Middle-earth only to begin again. LISA VON DRASEK is the curator of the Children's Literature Research Collections at the University of Minnesota. She writes about children's and young adult books at www.earlyword.com.
Horn Book Review
Eli lives contentedly in seemingly idyllic Serenity, New Mexico, until he tries to venture beyond the town limits. Slowly, Eli and friends realize that the town is fake, their lives are not their own, and they must escape to survive. A clever combination of The Giver and The Truman Show, this book is an engaging and compelling start to a new series. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.